PNR News Bulletin: LJ Smith Kicked Off Vampire Diaries

Vampire Diares cover I guess I’m a bit late to the party (as usual), but I was appalled to find a post on via Twitter this afternoon interviewing LJ Smith on her feelings about being kicked off her enormously successful Vampire Diaries book series. It’s a bit of a long story, but the gist of it is this: back in the early ’90s, LJ was hired on by publishers Alloy and HarperCollins to write the original Vampire Diaries trilogy, which means that technically, she doesn’t own the rights to the series or characters. After bringing the series back with The Vampire Diaries: The Return, she intended to continue the story in a new trilogy entitled Vampire Diaries: The Hunters (and even completed the manuscript for the first book, Phantoms), but apparently sometime around February, HarperCollins unceremoniously kicked her off the project. They’ve since hired a ghostwriter to take over the series, and LJ will have no further input or creative control over any of it. Apparently the publishers didn’t like where the series and characters had gone, and decided the obvious solution was to give the project to someone else.

Now, I’ll admit, I was never the biggest fan of Vampire Diaries, and I agree with LJ when she said in the aforementioned interview that Nightfall was by far her worst book. I wasn’t terribly fond of where the series had gone, either (though I haven’t yet read the last two books), or, frankly, that it had been resurrected at all. That being said, LJ Smith is one of my oldest, favorite YA authors, and I have a lot of respect for her and her work. As far as I’m concerned, these are her books, and they’ve been kidnapped.

I find the way the publisher has treated her in this situation absolutely fucking terrible. What the fucking shit? LJ’s writing made this series; her imagination built the world, characters, and relationships. And it wasn’t like the series flopped – it was popular enough in its post-Twilight re-release to spawn a goddamn hit TV show, for Christ’s sakes. And clearly a lot of fans enjoyed the new installments enough to make all three books NYT bestsellers. Yet the publisher doesn’t like where it’s going, so they take it away from its creator and give it to a fucking team of editors to plot out, all thanks to a bunk deal LJ got back when she was an unknown author? It may seem like a self-answering question, but all I can think is who the hell do these people think they are?

To add insult to injury, though, the publishers don’t seem to have any intention of informing fans that the new trilogy isn’t written by LJ herself, as evident in the official cover for The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Phantom above. There’s that clever little “created by” credit in tiny font above LJ’s very LARGE NAME, with no other outward indication that anything has changed in the creative lineup. It’s disgusting, and it should be obvious by now, but I’m pissed.

LJ has already asked fans not to boycott the new series, and that’s very professional of her, but I won’t be reading The Hunters, and I’m not sorry for it. This isn’t any way to treat an author whose created not one, but two very successful series for this company, and as both a fan and an aspiring author myself, I’m outraged by their behavior. I can’t imagine how heartbroken I’d be if my characters and stories were ever taken away and given to someone else. So, while I’m reluctantly refraining from organizing a boycotting campaign, I do feel that LJ’s readers should be informed. Which is why I’m writing this post, and asking that any LJ or Vampire Diaries fans who read it spread the word. The readers can, and should, decide for themselves whether or not to read the new series. But the decision should be informed, and informing people is clearly something the publisher is not interested in. So now it’s our job.

Spread the word, guys! I know I will be.


4 Responses

  1. Loren Chase

    May 25, 2011 8:50 pm, Reply

    This makes me so angry! I don’t even know what to say. I’m just astounded right now. I read The Vampire Diaries when I was in middle school and kind of grew up reading them. Now this happens?? Just tweeted your post!


  2. Gwen Lightburn

    May 31, 2011 1:19 am, Reply

    The whole situation is reminiscent of what happened to Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger on the Alien franchise. Yes, franchise. The 10-DVD set to which I bow in spirit has serious footage of the controversy and the asshole producers spewing their Hollywoodese, but the fact remains: they’re scumbag thieves, just like Dillinger in Tron!

    That being said, I wish a publishing company would seek me out to write books. Shit. I’d even eat Filipino blood soup every day for that kinda deal.

  3. RogueFiccer

    June 23, 2012 4:28 am, Reply

    Definitely not cool and I’m furious on L.J.’s behalf. Like you said, this is her world, her characters, her imagination, and it’s been hijacked. She also has no control over ‘Secret Circle’ and won’t be writing any more of those books, either. Here’s to hoping she has control over ‘Forbidden Game’. That was, hands down, my favorite series. There’s another FG book in the works and I am *so* looking forward to that. She has to finish the last Night World book first, and Eru only knows when that’ll be done. *sighs deeply* I so hate having to be patient…

    I have every intention of not reading anything with ‘created by’ above L.J.’s name because if it’s not written by her, I’m not interested.

    • Kayla + Cyna

      June 23, 2012 4:34 am, Reply

      After reading up a little more on the sitch, I can’t say I’m completely pleased with the way Smith reacted to her firing (some of it what a bit unprofessional), but I still think it’s utterly awful of the publishers to not only do that, but more importantly, *refused to make this known on the covers*. There’s NO OTHER NAME on the front except for LJ’s, and that’s incredibly misleading, despite the “created by” disclaimer.

      Honestly, given how the Vampire Diaries sequels have been going, I’m kind of terrified for her to touch Forbidden Game again (it’s also my favorite of hers!). It was a decent ending, and I really feel like anything she did at this stage would undermine that. Especially if she tried to retcon some sort of Jenny/Julian relationship the way she did with Elena/Damon, Elena/Matt, Elena/EVERYONE…

      But yes, new Night World book NAO PLZ. Three new VD books, and STILL no time for Strange Fate? SO WRONG.

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